Vedanta, as a philosophy of non-duality, has no place for an extra-cosmic god or anything supernatural. Close your eyes, you see Brahmn; open your eyes, you see the same Brahmn in the names and forms around you. So, in the Upanishads, we have been given this as the highest truth. Nothing higher than that can be, when you come to unity. That universal unity the Indian sages discovered, by investigating the depth dimension of the human being and discovering the infinite, imperishable, and non-dual dimension of what we experience as our self.
Viewed by the senses, it is finite; on penetrating deeper, it reveals its infinite dimension; above the water level, we see a tip of a rock; but searching below the water level, we realise its immense dimension.
That is what you find in the Upanishads as a momentous search and discovery which they convey in a few crisp and ‘great utterances’, known as mahavakyas: in the Chandogya, Tat Tvam Asi – ‘That Thou Art’, in the Mandukya, Ayarn Atma Brahma – ‘This Self is Brahmn’, in the Brihadaranyaka, Aham Brahma Asmi – ‘I am Brahmn’, and in the Aitareya, Prajnanam Brahmn – ‘Brahmn (is of the nature of) Consciousness’ and another great utterance in the Mundaka, Brahmaivedam-amritam -‘This whole manifested universe is the immortal Brahmn.’
Now, this truth about the One behind the many, the One in the many, is not the product of intellectual speculation, but of actual realisation by sages, both during the time of the Upanishads and in subsequent centuries. These truths have also been verified by a luminous succession of sages who had the capacity to rise to that level. After the Upanishads, we had Gautama Buddha, in the sixth century before Christ, who realised this truth. He became the Buddha, ‘enlightened’, as we say. He achieved jnana or bodhi, the highest jnana, the non-dual or advaita jnana. A little over a thousand years later, he was followed by Shankaracharya. And more recently, we have Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, and a few others attaining realisation of Atman as the non-dual Brahmn.
Brahmn is of the nature of not only sat, being, and chit, consciousness, but also of ananda, bliss. All types of human sensual joys are only trickles of this infinite bliss of Brahmn, boldly proclaims the Vedanta.
The Self in every one of us is also the Self of the universe. There cannot be two Selves, because it is of the nature of consciousness, which cannot be divided. It is akhanda, says Vedanta.
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